Not too long ago, I wrote about Ty, and the origin of the name Tyler. Allow me to do the same with Madeline (aka Minnie). Madeline sources from Magdala in Aramaic, or Migdal in Hebrew, and means ‘Great‘ or ‘Tower‘. Rachel was interested in this name, because it is a family name (I believe there is both one of her most favored cousins, and a second namesake that I can’t recall at the moment). When I had looked up the meaning, I immediately thought of several verses in the bible that speak about God being our strong tower and refuge.
There is something in a name. At times, I wonder if God has a name for me that I don’t yet know. I think God spoke ‘Madeline’ into our minds before she was born. One of my favorite stories in the bible is about Gideon’s army. Gideon was a bit unsure of himself and God’s direction, and asked for ‘proof’ that he’d win the war God was asking him to wage. He wasn’t a general, and his army… should not have won. When Gideon gathered the army, God told him that it was too big, 32,000 men, and through a series of tests, reduced the army to 300 men. These 300 unlikely victors went on to conquer and do all that God had told them to do.
When the Psalms and Proverbs talk about ‘a strong tower‘, they are talking about the shelter and safety that can be found in God, high above enemies and the dangers of this world. Like Gideon’s story, this may not make much sense by all worldly accounts and understanding, but God is bigger than any of that. Gideon’s army needed to be reduced, so that there would be no doubt that God delivered the victory. God was glorified in the ‘smallness‘ of Gideon’s army.
Madeline is the the very definition of an unlikely victor. She was born with a tumor, which we learned was malignant. Removal of the tumor and the surrounding skeletal material left her in a state of severe scoliosis with her organs being crushed to the point that she struggled to breath and could not eat. On more than one occasion, we have been told that nothing could be done, and that she should be taken home, and enjoy our time together as she is dying. By all worldly accounts and understanding, she should not be alive today. But God is bigger than any of that.
God used modern medicine to keep her alive, and to correct her scoliosis more than was ever hoped. Ultimately, her spine was fused, because no more correction was possible, and there is considerable risk of it getting worse during adolescence. So, at 10 years of age, Madeline will no longer gain height in the trunk of her body. She’s little. “Fun sized” we say. Even though we joke, she is a little self-conscious about it. I hope that she sees that God has been greatly glorified, and will continue to be in her small stature. She is famous in most all grades at her K-12 school, and at church. She’s known for being kind, loving, loyal, and… safe. Your fears and your hopes are safely shared with her. She judges bad grammar and swearing, but even then lets you know that you are forgiven and loved regardless of your bad language or bad grammar (trust me, she’s heard both from me.) She stands apart like a tower. She reflects God’s love to any and all that she meets.
She may be small, but it is clear that the love, long suffering, kindness, humility, consideration, selflessness, and purity are big, and from a substantial Source.
An unlikely victor, but a victor nonetheless. I can help but think “Praise be to God” each time I see her.
Madeline is a good name, not exactly what I had imagined, but better. I hope that she will learn this truth as well. Different from the world, not exactly what people expect, but better.